While in the summer I prefer to eat mostly raw to make me feel light and cool on my feet, as soon as temperatures drop I crave cooked foods. This is normal, and you absolutely want to go with what your body is craving during the changes of the seasons. While there are some warming raw food recipes you can maintain throughout the winter, there is nothing wrong with eating cooked foods - although some experts may want you to believe otherwise. There are actually certain nutrients that become more easily digestible when we cook them. And on top of that, cooked foods are an essential way to beat cravings. If you tend to eat very cooling salads all the time, then you may start to crave starchy, sugary foods in the winter when it is cold outside. This is because the starchy foods help to heat you from the inside. When you want to stick to your cool salad routine, you may find yourself with unbearable sweet cravings after some time. Rather than grabbing the next chocolate bar or cookie, incorporate more cooked whole grains or starchy root vegetables (think beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc) into your winter diet.
This quinoa bowl does a wonderful job of incorporating quinoa as the cooked grain, while keeping some of the light flavors of summer with mint and lemon. It’s a light meal in itself and I usually make a huge batch for the whole week. Then I add it to the rest of my balanced plate with a salad on the side and maybe another veggie side dish.
Unless you have been living on a secluded island somewhere in the last few years, I am sure the massive quinoa trend has also hit your kitchen. It is one of these grains that is even "approved" by protein lovers, since it actually doubles as a complete protein for vegetarians. In this case, it counts as both your whole grain and protein intake for the meal, so eat up!
Preparation time: 30 minutes (includes quinoa cooking time)
Makes 1 main or 2 side servings:
- 1 cup spinach leaves, roughly chopped (or other green leaves of your choice)
- 1 cup peas
- ¾ cups quinoa
- ½ cup packed mint leaves, finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ avocado, chopped
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper
First, rinse the quinoa well under running water. This will get rid of the bitter, slimy layer on the outside of the quinoa. (Perhaps soak it before you start cooking if you have enough time and planned ahead, but you don’t need to). Then place in a pot covering it with water and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes until soft. The water should have cooked away, so it does not stay soggy.
In the meantime, bring another small pot of water to boiling, add the peas for 5 minutes until cooked soft. Drain and put to the side.
Once the quinoa is fully cooked, add the peas to the same pot over medium heat, a splash of water, the spinach leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and stir for 1 minute until spinach is wilted and the liquid is starting to cook away again. Season with sea salt and black pepper and serve topped with the chopped avocado.
Bonus note: You can enjoy this dish warm straight from the stove or cooled down from the fridge. If you want to keep it in the fridge for the next few days, add the avocado only before serving it, rather than mixing it in right away.